A multimillion-dollar grant will provide scholarship funding and professional development programming for cybersecurity students
UMass Dartmouth received a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a new CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service program that will provide up to three years of support for students pursuing cybersecurity education. The program aims to address the national demand for a diverse cybersecurity workforce and prepare master’s-level professionals for government cybersecurity positions.
Following graduation, scholarship recipients are required to work in cybersecurity for a federal, state, local, or tribal government organization for the same duration as their scholarship support.
UMass Dartmouth is designated as a National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. The project leverages this designation, accelerated B.S./M.S. programs and graduate-level courses in cybersecurity, established partnerships with government agencies, and federally sponsored research efforts to advance scholarship in cybersecurity.
This is the largest financial award UMass Dartmouth has received from the NSF to date.
Preparing for in-demand careers
The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program allows UMass Dartmouth faculty to nurture students’ development not only as learners but as future colleagues in the field. In addition to providing eligible students with scholarship money and stipends, the program will allow students to participate in professional development opportunities including earning industry certifications, presenting at conferences, and attending seminars presented by the field’s leading experts.
Breaking down barriers
This project will help to advance the study of cybersecurity and bolster UMass Dartmouth’s commitment to recruiting and supporting students historically underrepresented in the field of cybersecurity.
Scholarship funding will remove financial barriers for students who are academically deserving but financially disadvantaged.
Making an impact
New college graduates don’t always gravitate toward careers in public service. A 2022 study by Qualtrics found that just 44% of recent college graduates said they would consider federal employment. That number is even lower (40%) among minority graduates.
“Students might ask, ‘why government?’” said Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the UMassD Cybersecurity Center, Lance Fiondella. “Careers in the public sector often provide the opportunity to make a bigger difference.”
Fiondella also emphasized the urgent need for this program and others like it. “The study of cybersecurity is complex; it intersects with the fields of psychology, human behavioral science, political science, and more. To meet cybersecurity challenges nationally and globally, this kind of investment is needed – more is needed.”
The award was secured through a rigorous peer review and proposal process led by Principal Investigator Lance Fiondella and Co-Principal Investigators Iren Valova, Liudong Xing, Jiawei Yuan, and Gokhan Kul.